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and hearing that speech is almost like hearing it for the first time each time you hear it. i get goose bumps. and you can't help but become emotional. the mall in washington today is packed with people from all over the country. thousands of people who made this journey on the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. the national mall is filled. you can see the reflecting pool and the monument in the background. then over my shoulder, the lincoln memorial where we have been hearing performances all day which will culminate with the president of the united states. the first african-american president giving his speech on the anniversary. i am don lemon, everyone. we're going to hear from three presidents this afternoon. former president jimmy carter will speak. as well as former president bill clinton will speak here as well. then, of course, president barack obama. plus, civil rights icon, congress n congressman john lewis, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march on washington will deliver his remarks.
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first we'll hear from superstar oprah winfrey. oprah is scheduled to speak any minute now. we wait for oprah winfrey and others to take to the podium, and they will begin to speak. joining me here in washington is my colleague, wolf blitzer. wolf, of course, you noaa wa very well. you have covered washington for decades. what does today mean for you and the nation's capital? >> it means a great deal. it means so much because all of us who have lived through these 50 years remember what it was like then. remember what we've gone through over these so many years. we know, of course, what it's like right now. don, it's very, very fascinating that at a sensitive moment like this, when the president of the united states getting ready to deliver his important remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of dr. martin luther king jr.'s "i have a dream" speech, he is right now also so preoccupied with the number one challenge facing any commander
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in chief. whether or not to go to war. in effect, the president has to decide very soon whether he is going to launch airstrikes, missile strikes, against targets in syria. i know he's been preoccupied with that huge decision he has to make. we're going to have full analysis of that coming up. certainly that decision, don, is hovering over the president right now. and if you think about dr. martin luther king, shortly after that speech 50 years ago, in the years that followed before his tragic assassination, he became, among other things, one of the pre-eminent opponents of the u.s. war in vietnam during those years. a lot of us are remembering what was going on then, what's going on now. we're going to have full analysis. gloria borger is here with me here in our cnn studio. we've got a lot to dissect as we await the president and two other presidents and oprah, among others. >> all right, wolf. we'll get back to you. thank you very much.
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wolf, i want to say as well, president barack obama, what helped him come to prominence is that he was against the war, a war over in iraq. there are similarities to these two gentlemen. we're going to talk about them, report on them, throughout the day here on cnn. you know, our nation has seen huge changes since 1963. dr. king is the only nonpresident to have a nation national -- the only nonpresident to be memorialized on washington's national mall. when dr. king's memorial opened just two years ago, the nation's first african-american president, well, he was there. he was watching. joining me now here in washington is host of cnn's new "cross-fire." congressman sheila jackson lee. thank you both for joining us. sitting here, two african-american men, as we are sitting here, i was telling one of our other anchors on cnn international, as i walked in this morning, i walked in with
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al roker who's a prominent national figure here, an anchor man here. i walked in with byron pitts. i walked in with you. i walked in with joe johns. and on and on. is this a fulfilling of dr. king's dream to have these african-americans in positions, visible positions? >> the war seems far away. the troubles seem far away. there's something sacred happening here. you're seeing these elderly african-americans, there was somebody -- when the rain started coming down, i saw an old black woman trying to get her umbrella. she said we faced the fire hose. we can face the rain. 50 years ago even dr. king couldn't drink from a water fountain. >> right. >> i mean, you can't -- i don't think you can get your mind wrapped around what this means for people -- my mother grew up in segregation. my mother grew up in segregation. i think it's important for us to keep in mind, yes, there's trouble in the world today. but there's something beautiful
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happening in the capital on a day when dr. king can be honored. >> when we talk about -- it's very loud here, by the way. amazing performances here which we'll review a little later on. we'll listen in quickly. then i'll talk more with van jones. let's listen. ♪ hallelujah, just wave your air in the hand today ♪ ♪ amen >> beautiful performances. beautiful performances. you were talking about the significance, van, i thought it was very important that you said you offered this little old lady your umbrella. she said, we don't need that, baby. i've been saying to people as well, when people start to complain about small things. i say, you know what?
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my mom walked to school when there were buses -- school buses passing her up. we'll talk about that. we're going to get to oprah. >> i was 9 years old when the march was occurring, and i asked my mama, can i go to the march? took me 50 years. but i'm here. on this date, in this place, at this time 50 years ago today, dr. martin luther king shared his dream for america with america. dr. king was the passionate voice that awakened the conscience of a nation. and inspired people all over the world. the power of his words resonated because they were spoken out of an unwavering belief in freedom and justice, equality and opportunity for all. let freedom ring was dr. king's closing call for a better and
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more just america. so today people from all walks of life will gather at 3:00 p.m. for bell ringing events across our great country and around the world as we reaffirm our commitment to dr. king's ideals. dr. king believed that our destinies are all intertwined. and he knew that our hopes and our dreams are really all the same. he challenged us to see how we all are more alike than we are different. so as the bells of freedom ring today, we are hoping that it's a time for all of us to reflect on not only the progress that has been made, and we've made a lot, but on what we have
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accomplished, and also on the work that still remains before us. it's an opportunity today to recall where we once were in this nation and to think about that young man who at 34 years old stood up here and was able to force an entire country to wake up. to look at itself. and to eventually change. and as we, the people, continue to honor the dream of a man and a movement, a man who in his short life saw suffering and injustice and refused to look the other way, we can be inspired, and we, too, can be courageous by continuing the walk in the footsteps of the path that he forged. he's the one who reminded us that we will never walk alone. he was, after all, a drum major
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for justice. so as the bells toll today, let us reflect on the bravery. let us reflect on the sacrifice of those who stood up for freedom, who stood up for us, whose shoulders we now stand on. and as the bells toll today at 3:00, let us ask ourselves, how will the dream live on in me, in you, in all of us? as the bells toll, let us remind ourselves, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. as the bells toll, we commit to a life of service because dr. king, one of my favorite quotes from him is, not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great. because fwragreatness is determ by service. so we ask ourselves, what are we doing for others to lift others up? and as the bells toll, we must
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recommit to that the love that abides and connects each us to shine through and let freedom ring. [ applause ] >> that was oprah winfrey giving a very moving speech on the steps of the lincoln memorial. we're going to take a quick break and come back with two former presidents and president barack obama. the great outdoors... ...and a great deal. grrrr ahhh let's leave the deals to oh my gosh this is so cool... awesome! perfect! save up to 30% plus an extra 12% off with coupon... now until labor day. only at
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"stubborn love" by the lumineers did you i did. email? so what did you think of the house? did you see the school ratings? oh, you're right. hey babe, i got to go. bye daddy! have a good day at school, ok? we're back now live on the mall in washington. you can see the presidents now coming down the steps. first president carter will descend the steps. then president clinton will. then john lewis will, who is a
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congressman from georgia who is the only living person who spoke on that day. then president barack obama. there is the president and the first lady, everyone, descending the steps to thunderous applause. >> amazing. >> what an amazing day. there you see president clinton, president carter. following the president and the first lady. >> wow. >> and here next to me -- that's okay. van jones is saying, wow. congressman sheila jackson lee saying, wow. what are the wows for? >> this is a spiritual moment. i'm sitting next to van. i know his history. it's a spiritual moment. right before they came on, they sang the song "you are the source of my strength." this is what has carried us this far. >> we're going to listen now to the national anthem.
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♪ o say, can you see by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪
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♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ and the home of the brave? ♪ [ applause ]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, john lewis. >> president and mrs. obama, president clinton, president carter, i want to thank bernice king, the king family, and the national park service for inviting me here to speak today. when i look out over this diverse crowd and survey the guests on this platform, i seem to realize what otis redding sang about. and what martin luther king jr.
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preached about. this moment in our history has been a long time coming, but the change has come. we are standing here in the shadow of abraham lincoln. 150 years after he issued the emancipation proclamation. and only 50 years after the historic march on washington for jobs and freedom. we have come a great distance in this country in the 50 years. but we still have a great distance to go before we fulfill the dream of martin luther king jr. sometime i hear people saying, nothing has changed. but for someone to grow up the way i grew up in the cotton fields of alabama, to now be
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serving in the united states congress, makes me want to tell them, come and walk in my shoes. come walk in the shoes of those that were attacked by police dogs, fire hoses and night sticks, arrested and taken to jail. i first came to washington in the same year that president barack obama was born to participate in a freedom ride. in 1961, black and white people could not be seated together on a greyhound bus. so we decided to take an integrated fashion ride from here to new orleans. but we never made it there. all the 400 of us were arrested and jailed in mississippi during the freedom ride. our bus was set on four in alabama.
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we were beaten and arrested and jailed. but we helped bring an end to segregation in public transportation. i came back here again in june of 1963 with the big six as the new chairman of the student nonviolent coordinating committee. we met with president kennedy. in 1963 -- we had to pay a poll tax, pass a so-called literacy test. count the number of jelly beans in a jar. hundreds of thousands of people were arrested and jailed throughout the south in trying to participate in the democratic
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process. that's why we told president kennedy we intended to march on washington. to demonstrate the need for equal justice and equal opportunity in america. on august 28th, 1963, the nation's capital was in a state of emergency. thousands of troops surrounded the city. liquor stores were closed. residents were told to stay home that day. but the march was so orderly, so peaceful. it was filled with dignity and self-respect. because we believe in the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. people came that day to that march dressed like they were on their way to a religious
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service. how we got over, how we got over. thousands together. in a strange sense, it seemed like the whole place stop rocking. we truly believe that in every human being, even those who were violent toward us, there was a spark of the divine. and no person had the right to scar or destroy that spark. martin luther king jr. taught us the way of peace. the way of love. the way of nonviolence. he taught us to have the power to forgive. the capacity to be reconciled. he taught us to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, to find
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a way to get in the way. people inspired by that vision of justice and equality, and they were willing to put their bodies on the line for a greater cause, greater than themselves. not one incident of violence was reported that day. the spirit of dr. king's words captured the hearts of people not just around america, but around the world. on that day, martin luther king jr. made a speech, but he also delivered a sermon. he transformed these marble steps of the lincoln memorial into a modern day pulpit. he changed us forever. after the ceremony was over,
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president kennedy invited us back down to the white house. he met us, standing in the door of the oval office. and he was beaming like a proud father. as he shook the hand of each one of us, he said, you did a good job. you did a good job. and he said to dr. king, you have a dream. 50 years later, we can ride anywhere we want to ride, we can stay where we want to stay. those signs that said white and colored are gone. and you won't see them anymore. a step in a museum, in a book, only video. but there are still invisible signs, barriers in the hearts of
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human kind that form a gap between us. too many of us still believe our differences define us instead of the divine spark that runs through all of human creation. the scars and stains still remain deeply imbedded in american society. stopped and frisked in new york. or injustice in the trayvon martin case in florida. the mass incarceration of millions of americans, immigrants hiding in fear in the shadow of our society, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, or the renew struggle. we must never, ever give up. we must never, ever give in. we must keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize. [ applause ]
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we did go to jail. but we got the civil rights act. we got our voting rights act. we got our fair housing act. but we must continue to push. we must continue to work. as the late randolph said, organizer of the march in 1963, and the dean of the civil rights movement once said, we may have come here on different ships, but we all are in the same boat now. so it doesn't matter whether we're black or white, latino, asian-american or native american. whether we are gay or straight. we are one people. we are one family. we are all living in the same house. not just an american house, but the world house.
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and when we finally accept these truths, then we will be able to pull dr. king's dream to build a beloved community, a nation and a world at peace with itself. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> please welcome the 39th president of the united states, jimmy carter. [ applause ] >> well, i'm greatly honored to be here. and i realize that most people know that it's highly unlikely that any of us three over on my right would have served in the white house or be on this
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platform had it not been for martin luther king jr. and his movement and his crusade for civil rights. so we are grateful to him for us being here. i'm also proud that i came from the same part of the south as he did. he never lost contact with the folks back home. and was helping tennessee garbage workers, as you know, when he gave his life to a racist bullet. i remember how it was back in those days. i left georgia in 1943 for college and the navy. and when i came home from a submarine duty, i was put on the board of education. i suggested to the other members that we visit all the schools in the county. they had never done this before. and they were reluctant to go with me. but we finally did it. and we found that white children had three nice brick buildings.
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but the african-american children had 26 different elementary schools in the county. they were in churches, in front living rooms, and a few were in barns. they had so many because there were no school buses for african-american children. and they had to be within walking distance of where they went to class. their school books were out dated and worn out. and every one of them had a white child's name in the front of the book. we finally obtained some buses. and then the state legislature ordained that the front fenders be painted black. not even the school buses could be equal to each other. one of the finest moments of my life was ten months after dr. king's famous speech right here.
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when president lyndon johnson signed the civil rights act. i was really grateful when the king family adopted me as their presidential candidate in 1976. every handshake from dr. king, every hug from coretta, got me a million yankee votes. denny king prayed at a democratic convention, for quite a while, i might say. and coretta was in the hotel room with me and roselyn when i was elected president. he gazed at the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. he made our nation stronger because he made it better. we were able to create a
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national historic site where dr. king lived, worked and worshipped. it's next door to the carter center. laid together just by a walking path. and at the carter center we try to make -- there's principles that we follow, the same as his. emphasizing peace and human rights. i remember that denny king said, too many people think martin freed only black people. in truth, he helped to free all people. [ applause ] >> and denny king added, it's not enough to have a right to sit on a lunch counter if you can't afford to buy a meal. and he also said, the ghetto still looks the same, even from the front seat of a bus. perhaps the most challenging statement of martin luther king jr. was, and i quote, the crucial question of our time is how to overcome oppression and
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violence without resorting to oppression and violence. in a nobel prize ceremony of 2002, i said that my fellow georgian was, and i quote again, the greatest leader in my native state and perhaps my native country has ever produced. and i was not excluding presidents and even the founding fathers when i said this. i believe we all know how dr. king would have reacted to the new id requirements to exclude certain voters, especially african-americans. i think we all know how dr. king would have reacted to the supreme court striking down a crucial part of a voters rights act just recently passed overwhelmingly by congress. i think we all know how dr. king would have reacted to
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unemployment among african-americans being almost twice the rate of white people. and for teenagers at 42%. i think we would all know how dr. king would have reacted to our country being awash in guns. and for more and more states passing stand your ground laws. i think we know how dr. king would have reacted for people of the district of columbia still not having full citizenship rights. [ cheers and applause ] and i think we all know how dr. king would have reacted to have more than 835,000 african-american men in prison, five times as many as when i left office, and with one-third of all african-american males being destined to be in prison in their lifetimes. well, there's a tremendous agenda ahead of us. and i'm thankful to martin luther king jr. that his dream
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is still alive. thank you. [ applause ] >> and now, please welcome the 42nd president of the united states, bill clinton. [ applause ] >> thank you. mr. president, mrs. obama, president carter, vice president biden, dr. biden, i want to thank my great friend, reverend bernice king and the king family for inviting me to be a part of this 50th observation of one of the most important days in american history. dr. king and a. phillip randolph, john lewis and ruston
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and all the others who led this massive march knew what they were doing on this hallowed ground. in the shadow of lincoln's statue, the burning memory of the fact that he gave his life to preserve the union and end slavery, martin luther king urged his crowd not to drink from the cup of bitterness. but to reach across the racial divide. because, he said, we cannot walk alone. their destiny is tied up with our destiny. their freedom is inextri cably bound to our freedom. he urged the victims of racial violence to meet white americans with an outstretched hand, not a clenched fist.
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and in so doing, to prove the redeeming power of unearned suffering. and then he dreamed of an american where all citizens would sit together at the table of brotherhood. where little white boys and girls and little black boys and girls would hold hands across the color line. where his own children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. this march and that speech changed america. they opened minds, they melted hearts. and they moved millions, including a 17-year-old boy watching alone in his home in arkansas. it was an empowering moment. but also an empowered moment.
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as the great chronicler of those years, taylor branch, wrote, the movement here gained the force to open, quote, the stubborn gates of freedom. and outflowed the civil rights act, the voting rights act, immigration reform, medicare, medicaid, open housing. it is well to remember that the leaders and the foot soldiers here were both idealists and tough realists. they had to be. it was a violent time. just three months later, we lost president kennedy. and we thank god that president johnson came in and fought for all those issues i just mentioned. just five years later, we lost senator kennedy. and in between, there was the carnage of the fight for jobs, freedom and equality.
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just 18 days after this march, four little children were killed in the birmingham church bombing. then there were the ku klux klan murders. the mississippi lynching. and a dozen others. until in 1968 dr. king himself was martyred, still marching for jobs and freedom. what a debt we owe to those people who came here 50 years ago. [ applause ] the martyrs played it all for a dream. a dream, as john lewis said, that millions have now actually lived. so how are we going to repay the debt? dr. king's dream of interdependence, his prescription of wholehearted cooperation across racial lines, they ring as true today as they
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did 50 years ago. oh, yes. we face terrible political gridlock now. read a little history. it's nothing new. yes, there remain racial inequalities in employment, income, health, wealth, incarceration, and in the victims and perpetrators of violent crime. but we don't face beatings, lancings and shootings for our political beliefs anymore. and i would respectfully suggest that martin luther king did not live and die to hear his heirs crying about political gridlock. it is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the american people back. [ applause ] we cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building a modern economy of good jobs and rising income.
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or to rebuilding our education system. to give all our children a common core of knowledge necessary to ensure success. or to give americans of all ages access to affordable college and training programs. and we thank the president for his efforts in those regards. we cannot relax in our efforts to implement health care reform in a way that ends discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. one of which is inadequate income to pay for rising health care. a health care reform that will lower costs and lengthen lives. nor can we stop investing in science and technology to train our young people of all races for the jobs of tomorrow. and to act on what we learned about our bodies, our
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businesses, and our climate. we must push open those stubborn gates. we cannot be discouraged by a supreme court decision that said we don't need this critical provision in the voting rights act because, look at the states. it made it harder for african-americans and hispanics and students and the elderly and the infirmed and poor working folks to vote. what do you know? they showed up, stood in line for hours and voted anyway. so obviously we don't need any kind of law. [ applause ] but a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon. we must open those stubborn gates. and let us not forget that while racial divides persist and must
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not be denied, the whole american landscape is littered with the lost dreams and dashed hopes of people of all races. and the great irony of the current moment is that the future has never brimmed with more possibilities. it has never burned brighter in what we could become. if we push open those stubborn gates. and if we do it together. the choice remains as it was on that distant summer day 50 years ago. cooperate and thrive or fight with each other and fall behind. we should all thank god for dr. king and john lewis and all those who gave us a dream to guide us. a dream they've paid for like our founders with their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor. and we thank them for reminding
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us that america is always becoming, always on a journey. and we all, every single citizen among us, have to run our lap. god bless them. and god bless america. [ applause ] >> as they say, amen. that was bill clinton, of cours course, speaking. before him, president carter. john lewis speaking as well. very moving. not only the speeches, but they talked politics as well. as they say, let the church say say men. joining me now is representative from texas gsheila jackson lee. we went to church for a moment. >> i represent a poster child state that gave birth to lyndon baines johnson who took the message of martin king and
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the -- being driven by martin king and passed the civil rights act with the congress at that time, republicans and democrade, and the 1965 voting act. what i'm hoping in this spiritual moment that is not only the people who have gathered on the mall, and it is a momentous occasion. it's a beautiful sight. but i really want to hopefully share with those who are in their hospital beds or those who are in their offices and their schools, or at their offices about this moment. this is a moment for america to come together. >> yeah. you know, president clinton said that the people that came before him, the john lewises, the dr. martin luther king jr. of the world, we should honor them and honor how brave they are. van jones, there were moments there throughout these speeches. we went back to the '80s with president carter. back to the '90s with bill clinton. there were moments where we just sort of locked eyes in agreement, like amen. >> you know, you're talking about 40 years in the wilderness from the time that dr. king was killed to obama being elected in
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2008. and when you think about it from that point of view, those 40 years were very, very difficult. i think that people forget how violent segregation was. how terrified people were. we talk about terror now. there was terror in america for 100 years after slavery. and people had to really find courage to stand up and to speak out. this was a courageous thing. these people had to go back home. they had to go back home to face the klan. you getting photographed up here, you got to get on a bus and go home. so we forget about that level of personal courage, unknown heroes who lost jobs when they got back home and who were threatened. so to be here now, you keep saying it's a spiritual moment. i wish america could be here. the dignity, the grace with which people are walking. especially the older african-americans. the pride. >> john lewis spoke directly, directly to young people. directly to young people. saying, you know what? if you don't think things have changed, then you should walk in my shoes just for a moment.
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we're going to get back now to martin luther king jr. iii. let's listen in. >> he often talks and sometimes we must take positions that are neither safe nor popular nor politic. but we must take those positions because our conscience tells us they're right. our families say this afternoon, we've got a lot of work to do. but none of us should be anywheres tired. why? because we've come much too far from where we started. you see, no one ever told any of us that our roads would be easy. but i know our god, our god, our god did not bring any of us this far to leave us. thank you. god bless you. [ applause ] >> please welcome christine king
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ferris. [ applause ] >> thank you. president obama and mrs. obama, former presidents clinton and carter, other distinguished program participants, i am honored to be among you today and to address this historic gathering. i don't know if i am the most senior speaker to address this assembly today, but i am certainly and surely the only person alive who knew martin luther king jr. when he was a
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baby. it has been my great privilege to watch my little brother grow and drive and develop into a fine man and then a great leader whose legacy continues to inspire countless millions around the world. unfortunately, a bout with a flu virus 50 years ago prevented me from attending the original march. but i was able to watch it on television, and i was as awe struck as everyone else. i knew martin was an excellent preacher. because i had seen him deliver on many occasions. but on that day, martin achieved greatness.
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because he melded the hopes and dreams of millions into a grand vision of healing, reconciliation and brotherhood. the dream my brother shared with our nation and world on that sweltering day of days 50 years ago continues to nurture and sustain nonviolent activists worldwide in their struggle for freedom and human rights. indeed, this gathering provides a powerful testament of hope and proof positive that martin's great dream will live on in the heart of humanity for
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generations to come. our challenge, then, as followers of martin luther king jr. is to now honor his life, leadership and legacy by living our lives in a way that carries forward the unfinished work. there is no better way to honor his sacrifices and contributions than by becoming champions of nonviolence. in our homes and communities. in our places of work, worship and learning. everywhere. every day. the dream martin shared on that day a half century ago remains a definitive statement of the american dream. the beautiful vision of a
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diverse, freedom loving people united around love for justice, brotherhood and sisterhood. yes, they can slay the dreamer. but, no, they cannot destroy his immortal dream. but martin's dream is a vision not yet to be realized. a dream yet unfilled. and we have much to do before we can celebrate the dream as a reality. as the suppression of voting rights and horrific violence that has taken the life of trayvon martin and young people all across america has so painfully demonstrated.
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but despite the influences and challenges we face, we are here today to affirm the dream. we are not going to be discouraged. we are not going to be distracted. we are not going to be defeated. instead, we are going forward into this uncertain future with courage and determination to make the dream a reality. and so the work to fulfill the dream goes on, and despite the daunting challenges we face on the road to the beloved community, i feel that the dream is sinking deep and nourishing roots all across america and around the world.
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may it continue to thrive and spread and help bring justice, peace and liberation to all humanity. thank you, and god bless you all. [ applause ] >> please welcome, reverend dr. bernice king. [ applause ] >> president obama, mrs. obama, presidents carter and clinton, congressman lewis, ambassador young, to my brother martin iii, dexter scott king, to my entire family, i was 5 months old when
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my father delivered his "i have a dream" speech. and i probably was somewhere crawling on the floor or taking a nap after having a meal. but today is a glorious day because on this program today, we have witnessed a manifestation of the beloved community. and we thank everyone for their presence here today. today we have been honored to have three presidents of the united states. 50 years ago, the president did not attend. today, we are honored to have many women in the planning and mobilization of the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. 50 years ago, there was not a single woman on the program. today, we are honored to have not just one young person, but several young people on the program today. it is certainly a tribute to the
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work and the legacy of so many people that have gone on before us. 50 years ago today in the symbolic shadow of this great emancipator, abraham lincoln, my father, the great liberator, stood in this very spot and declared to this nation his dream to let freedom ring. for all people who were being manicled by a system of segregation and discrimination. 50 years ago he commissioned us to go back to our various cities, towns, hamlets, states and villages and let freedom ring. the reverberation of the sound of that freedom message has amplified and echoed since 1963. through the decades and coast to coast throughout this nation and even around the world.
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and has summoned us once again back to these hallowed grounds to send out a clariant call to let freedom ring. since that time as a result of the civil rights agent of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965 and the fair housing act in 1968, we have witnessed great strides toward freedom for all, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, class or sexual orientation. 50 years later, in this year of jubilee, we're standing once again in the shadow of that great emancipator, having been summoned to these hallowed grounds to reverberate the message of that great liberator. for there's a remnant from 1963,
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congressman lewis, ambassador young, that still remains. who has come to bequeath that message of freedom to a new generation of people who must now carry that message in their time, in their communities, amongst their tribes and amongst their nations of the world. we must keep the sound and the message of freedom and justice going. it was my mother, as has been said previously, coretta scott king, who, in fact, 30 years ago assembled a coalition of conscience that started us on this whole path of remembering the anniversary of the march on washington. she reminded us that struggle is a never ending process. freedom is never really won. you earn it and win it in every generation. and so we come once again to let freedom ring.
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because if freedom stops ringing, then the sound will disappear and the atmosphere will be charged with something else. 50 years later, we come once again to this special landing on the steps of the lincoln memorial to reflect, to renew, and to rejuvenate for the continued struggle of freedom and justice. for today, 50 years later, my friends, we are still crippled by practices and policies steeped in racial pride, hatred and hostility. some of which have us standing our ground rather than finding common ground. we are still chained by economic disparities. income and class inequalities. and conditions of poverty for many of god's children around this nation and the world.
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we'll still bound by a cycle of civil unrest and inherent social biases in our nation and world that oftentimes degenerates into violence and destruction. especially against women and children. we're at this landing. and now we must break the cycle. the prophet king spoke the vision. he made it plain. and we must run with it in this generation, his prophetic vision and magnificent dream described the yearning of people all over the world to have the freedom to prosper in life. which is the right to pursue one's aspirations, purpose, dreams, well-being, without oppressive, depressive, repressive practices, behaviors, laws and conditions that diminish one's dignity and that denies one life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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the freedom to participate in government, which is the right to have a voice and a say in how you are represented, regulated, and governed without threats of tyranny, disenfranchisement, exclusionary tactics and behaviors. and to have freedom to peacefully co-exist, which is the right to be respected in one's selfhood, individuality, and uniqueness without fear of attack, assault or abuse. in 1967 my father asked a poignant and critical question. where do we go from here? chaos or community? and we say with a resounding voice no to chaos and yes to community. if we're going to rid ourselves of the chaos, then we must make a necessary shift. nothing is more tragic than for us to fail to achieve new attitudes and new mental
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outlooks. we have a tremendous and unprecedented opportunity to reset the very means by which we live, work and enjoy our lives. if we're going to continue the struggle of freedom and create true community, then we will have to be relentless in exposing, confronting and ridding ourselves of the mindset of pride and greed and selfishness and hate and lust and fear and idleness and lack of purpose and lack of love as my brother said, for our neighbor. we must seize this moment, the dawning of a new day. the emergence of a new generation. who is postured to change the world through collaborative power, facilitate it by unconditional love. and, as i close, i call upon my brother by the name of neamaya
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who was in the midst of rebuilding a community. in the midst of rebuilding a community he brought the leaders and the rulers and the rest of the people together. and he told them that the work is great and large, and we are widely separated one from another on the wall. but when you hear the sound of the trumpet, and might i say when you hear the sound of the bell today, come to that spot, and our god will fight with us. and so today, we're going to let freedom ring all across this nation. we're going to let freedom ring everywhere we go. if freedom is going to ring in libya, in syria, in egypt, in florida, then we must reach across the table, feed each other, and let freedom ring!
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>> in 1963216th street baptist church was bombed. the bell was saved. thanks to the church and the mayor, that bell is here. to help celebrate dr. king's legacy and this day, let freedom ring. [ bell tolling ] [ applause ]
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>> please welcome our next performance by tony and grammy award winner, heather hadleigh. >> we're awaiting the president of the united states to speak. you can see he and the first lady are standing there next to the bell as heather headley, a gospel and r & b singer is performing now. that bell is from that church, 16th street baptist church in birmingham, alabama, september 15th, 1963. the three little girls who died were addy mccollins, cynthia welsly, carol robinson and denise mcnair. and it happened just a month, not even a month, after the march on washington. and, of course, when that happened, many around dr. king said we have heard from you, we have heard from the nation. the nation has showed up here. what will be the people who are against us? what will be their response?
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what will be the klan's response? that response was to bomb a black baptist church in birmingham, alabama. i want to bring in my guests here again, van jones, commentator here on cnn, analyst, and also the new host of "cross-fire." and sheila jackson-lee, democratic congresswoman from texas. we were in the middle of a story as we were talking here about the folks who are standing here and about john lewis. and everyone speaking directly to people. directly to young people. and old. saying if you think things haven't changed, walk in my shoes for just a little bit. >> i just want to say a couple of things. when you talk about young people, you think about young children. the one that did not speak, dexter, was there as well. >> you don't see him much. >> you don't see him very much. you saw the young fire brand of the little baby daughter. you saw iii. but dexter has played an important role in that family. he is the one when he saw his mother suffering from lack of funds stepped up to make sure the king papers were respected.
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the king speeches were respected. he's a quiet power in the family. it was so good to see dexter there. >> when you use that speech or any of his speeches you must go through dexter first. >> if you want to make money off of a king speech, you have to go through dexter. he needs to be respected. >> he did that for his mother. >> his mother suffered. >> his father did not leave his family in wealth. >> people act like dr. king was a rich man. dr. king gave away money. he didn't even accept the nobel prize money. he gave it away. so when he was shot, his children suffered financially. dexter who has not been celebrated today, i was so proud to see him there. i was so proud to see the young granddaughter there. she was afraid to hear the bell ringing. just being a child. this is a real family. and they've suffered for america. so they should be honored. >> van and congresswoman, sit tight just for a second. we have some developing news i want to get to. my colleague here in washington as well. that's cnn's wolf blitzer. wolf, i understand you have some breaking news. it's involving nidal hasan, his sentencing.
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>> nidal hasan has been sentenced to -- has received the death sentence. unanimously recommended by a military jury. ft. hood, texas. nidal hasan murdered 13 fellow soldiers back in 2009. he wounded some 31 others. 32 others. now a jury has unanimously recommended that he be put to death. the death penalty for major nidal hasan. he did not challenge that death sentence. in fact, he seemed to suggest he wanted it. he wanted to be a martyr for the so-called cause that he was promoting, an islamist cause. clearly he was influenced by the islamist movement. so the president -- the nidal hasan gets the death sentence. if, in fact, he is -- gets the death sentence, he will be the first in some 50 years. here's the president at the martin luther king commemoration.
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[ applause ] >> to the king family who have sacrificed and inspired so much, to president clinton, president carter, vice president biden, jill, fellow americans, five decades ago today americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding. we hold these truths to be self-evident. that all men are created equal.
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that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. in 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise, those truths, remained unmet. and so they came by the thousands. from every corner of our country. men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom
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and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others. across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer. in the middle of the night, entire blocks of harlem came out to wish them well. with the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses. even if they couldn't always sit where they wanted to sit. those with less money hitchhiked or walked. there were seamstresses and steel workers, students and teachers, maids and pullman porters. they shared simple meals and bunked together on floors.
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and then on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation's capital, under the shadow of the great emancipator. to offer testimony of injustice. to petition their government for redress. and to awaken america's long slumbering conscience. we rightly and best remember dr. king's soaring oratory that day. how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions. how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors
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alike. his words belong to the ages. possessing a power and prophesy unmatched in our time. but we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books. never got on tv. many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters. they lived in towns where they couldn't vote and cities where their votes didn't matter. there were couples in love who couldn't marry. soldiers who fought for freedom abroad, that they found denied to them at home. they had seen loved ones beaten and children fire hosed.
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and they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate. and, yet, they chose a different path. in the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormenters. in the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence. willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws. their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. a lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that god grants us. they had learned through hard
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experience what frederick douglass once taught. that freedom is not given, it must be won through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith. that was the spirit they brought here that day. that was the spirit young people like john lewis brought to that day. that was the spirit that they carried with them like a torch back to their cities and their neighborhoods. that steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come. through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches, far from the spotlight. through the loss of four little girls in birmingham.
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and the carnage of the pettis bridge. and the agony of dallas and california and memphis. through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered. it never died. and because they kept marching, america changed. because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. because they marched, a voting rights law was signed. because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. because they marched, city
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councils changed and state legislatures changed and congress changed and, yes, eventually the white house changed. [ applause ] because they marched, america became more free and more fair. not just for african-americans, but for women and latinos, asians and native americans, for catholics, jews and muslims. for gays, for americans with disabilities. america changed for you and for me. and the entire world drew strength from that example. whether the young people who watched from the other side of an iron curtain and would eventually tear down that wall or the young people inside south africa who would eventually end
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the scourge of apartheid. those are the victories they won. with iron wills and hope in their hearts. that is the transformation that they run with each step of their well worn shoes. that's the debt that i and millions of americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries. folks who could have run a company, maybe, if they'd ever had a chance. those white students who put themselves in harm's way even though they didn't have to. those japanese-americans who recalled their own internment. those jewish americans who had survived the holocaust. people who could have given up and given in but kept on keeping
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on. knowing that we may endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. on the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted. as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together and fight alongside one another and love one another. and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on earth. to dismiss the nag magnitude ofs
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progress, to suggest as some sometimes do that little has changed, that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. [ applause ] medger evers, james cheney, andrew goodman, michael schwerner, martin luther king jr., they did not die in vain. their victory was great. but we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. the arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own.
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to secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacenccompla. whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance. and we'll suffer the occasional setback. but we will win these fights. this country has changed too much. people of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history's current.
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in some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination, the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the march. for the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract ideal. they were there seeking jobs as well as justice. not just the absence of oppression, but the presence of economic opportunity. for what does it profit a man, dr. king would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he
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can't afford the meal? this idea that one's liberty is linked to one's livelihood. that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security, this idea was not new. lincoln himself understood the declaration of independence in such terms. as a promise that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men and that all should have an equal chance. and dr. king explained that the goals of african-americans were identical to working people of all races. decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which
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families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. what king was describing has been the dream of every american. it's what's lured for centuries new arrivals to our shores. and it's long the second dimension of economic opportunity, the chance through honest toil to advance one's station in life with the goals of 50 years ago have fallen most short. yes, there have been examples of success within black america that would have been unimaginable a half century ago. this has already been noted. black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white unemployment.
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latino unemployment, close behind. the gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown. as president clinton indicated, the position of all working americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream dr. king described even more elusive. for over a decade, working americans of all races have seen their wages and income stagnate, even as corporate profits soar. even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes. inequality has steadily risen over the decades. upward mobility has become harder. in too many communities across this country, in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall
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over our youth. inadequate health care and perennial violence. and so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires. it was whether this country would admit all people who are willing to work hard regardless of race into the ranks of a middle class life. [ applause ] the test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. this is whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many. for the black custodian and the white steel worker. the immigrant dishwasher and the native american veteran. to win that battle.
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to answer that call. this remains our great unfinished business. we shouldn't fool ourselves. the task will not be easy. since 1963, the economy has changed. the twin forces of technology and global competition have subtracted those jobs that once provided a foothold into the middle class. reduced the bargaining power of american workers. and our politics have suffered. intrenched interests, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, resisted any government efforts to give working families
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a fair deal. -- or taxes on the wealthy who can afford it just to fund crumbling schools, that all these things violated sound economic principles. we'd be told that growing inequality was a price for a growing economy. the measure of a free market. that greed was good and compassion ineffective. that those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame. then there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division. doing their best to convince middle class americans of a great untruth. that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity. that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.
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and then if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us claiming to push for change, lost our way. the anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots. legitimate grieveance -- racial politics could cut both ways. as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drown out by the language of recrimination. and what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all americans to work hard and get ahead, was too often framed as a mere desire
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for government support. as if we had no agency in our own liberation. as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child. the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. all of that history is how progress stalled. that's how hope was diverted. that's how our country remained divided. but the good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. we can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations. where politics is a zero sum game. where few do very well while struggling families of every
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race fight over a shrinking economic pie. that's one path. or we can have the courage to change. the march on washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history. that we are masters of our fate. but it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. we'll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling. the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago. and i believe that spirit is there. that truth force inside each of us. i see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. i see it when the black youth
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thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. it's there when the native born recognizing that striving spirit of the new immigrant. when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own. that's where courage comes from. when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another. and we find that we do not walk alone. that's where courage comes from. [ applause ] and with that courage we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. with that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on earth, for every person. with that courage, we can stand
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together for the right of every child from the corners of anakoshta to the hills of appalachian. with that courage we can feed the hungry. and house the homeless. and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise. america, i know the road will be long. but i know we can get there. yes, we will stumble. but i know we'll get back up. that's how a movement happens. that's how history bends. that's how when somebody is feint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we're marching. there's a reason why so many who marched that day and in the days
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to come were young. for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear. unconstrained by the conventions of what is. they dare to dream differently. to imagine something better. and i am convinced that same imagination, same hunger of purpose, stirs in this generation. we might not face the same dangers of 1963. but the fierce urgency of now remains. we may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling procession of that day so long ago. no one can match king's brilliance. but the same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, i know that flame remains.
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that tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge, she's marching. that successful businessman who doesn't have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con who's down on his luck, he's marching. the mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same doors as anybody's son, she's marching. the father who realizes the most important job he'll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn't have a father, especially if he didn't have a father at home, he's marching. the battle scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to
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helping their fellow warriors stand again and walk again and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home, they are marching. everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day, that change does not come from washington, but to washington, that change has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the mantle of citizenship, you are marching. and that's the lesson of our past. that's the promise of tomorrow. that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. when millions of americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low and those rough places will be made plain. and those crooked places, they
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straighten out towards grace and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrifice so much and live up to the true means of our creed, as one nation, under god, indivisible. with liberty and justice for all. [ applause ] ♪ >> that is the 44th president of the united states, barack obama. an african-american. on this 50th anniversary of the march on washington. as you look at pictures on this mall of the thousands of people who have gathered here, the president serious today. going deep.
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going deep. not only looking back and honoring the people who came before him, whose shoulders upon which he stands, but also giving some tough love. and also soul searching and looking forward to the future of what we need to do in order to achieve not only dr. king's dream, but beyond that. equality. equality of life for every single american. there's the former president of the united states, bill clinton there. also the king family in the crowd as well. i'm joined here on the podium on this great national mall in front of the lincoln memorial by democratic congresswoman sheila jackson-lee who worked in the movement. also cnn's van jones, host of "cross-fire." congresswoman, he was -- he spoke to the people here. but he knew that speaking to the folks here, he was preaching to the choir. he was reaching beyond the
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people in washington. and everyone, i say every american, should have been listening to this speech. >> don, you know, i started with that dr. king was a dreamer. but he believed in america. today, president obama spoke to the hope of america. and he is hopeful for america. >> yes. >> as you look at this vast throng of humanity, the ones who came are clinging on to their hope. >> in the rain. >> in the rain. but the real challenge today is, as i said, for those americans far and wide that are not here, what president obama said to them was, we are one. we are united. we are the manifest of our own destiny. we have low valleys and high mountains. and as someone who worked for the sclc, it is the same challenge that i would like to give. because as a member of congress, we have a task to believe in dr.
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king's dream and to implement it. and that's what the president has said. raise the minimum wage. educate our children. be fathers and mothers. he gave us a road map. >> yes, he did. he spoke to the poor. he spoke to african-americans specifically. he spoke to white americans. he spoke to democrats and republicans. >> all of them. >> this was a far reaching speech, van jones. >> it was. and i feel, you know, that he was beginning to move into the johnson direction. in other words, some people say that he should be the heir of king. king was a preacher. he's the heir of lincoln. he's the heir of fdr. here's the heir of johnson. he has to be evaluated. i saw him reaching for that legacy. he spoke about issues of class. he talked about jobs. and he was willing to give some tough love to parts of the black community that are falling behind. look at this. look at this. beautiful, beautiful scene here. this beautiful family that has inspired the world, has given black children something to
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aspire to. now here comes jimmy carter. >> right. >> a great man who when he came on the scene was a southerner who understood the issues of race. >> another southerner, william jefferson clinton. >> the 42nd and 44th president of the united states. >> if i might say also, the president took the challenge to speak to the congress of the united states of america. he is the visionary. the american people are the humanity. we are the architects. i want my colleagues, republicans and democrats, i hope they are somewhere today listening not to divisiveness, but to hope. for them to come back and be joined by the president, to be able to be the crafters of a better america, a more educated america, more improved america. >> to accomplish something. >> to accomplish something together, unified as one. >> the person who can speak to that as well as van jones is cnn's wolf blitzer. wolf blitzer, you sat there. you listened to the speech. just on a personal note, i have to say this is, for me, i
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enjoyed this speech by the president more than i've enjoyed any other. even the inauguration speech. this speech spoke to every single person in america, wolf blitzer. >> well, explain, don, maybe van will want to explain also, when you both suggested the president had some tough love in this speech for the african-american community. be specific. what did he say that in your assessment represented that kind of tough love? >> well, he talked about -- you guys can weigh in on this. he said that poverty did not -- should not become an excuse. and it has become an excuse for some not to try to make it. not to live the dream. and he talked about other -- he talked about racial politics as well. he said some of that -- some of the goodwill and the folks in the black community, in the movement who were -- who were working for good, correct me if i'm wrong, had given over maybe to racial politics. and some in the black community had started to use excuses as to
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not being able to make it. that is not what dr. king's dream was. let me let van weigh in on that. >> well, i mean, dr. king always said that individuals have the responsibility to climb that ladder on their own effort. and with their own energy and initiative. but dr. king also said they have to have a ladder to climb. i think he had a good balance here of saying, yes, you must move forward. you can't make excuses. but he also talked about the importance of society of making -- putting the rungs on the ladder and giving people the opportunity to climb. i think dr. king had been misunderstood, sometimes hijacked as saying all he wanted was for individuals to have an opportunity. that's true. but he also wanted to make sure that society came together to give those poor kids a chance. i think obama stood for that today. >> dr. king spoke of -- in his last days on april 3rd, 1968, that he had been to the mountain top. that he had seen the promised land. and what he was saying is that he saw that america was a land of opportunity.
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i think the president gave a little bit of tough love today. but i also think he understood the anguish of those who may have engaged in different activity and what he said is, we all have to be able to help and educate children in crumbling schools. and as i said, raise the -- bridge the divide of unequal wealth. that's something that congress and state legislators -- let me just say this. we must fix the voting rights act. because dr. king in his efforts for accommodation understood that the empowerment of the vote was a powerful tool as well. >> thank you for that. i see jesse jackson is waiting in the wings. he's raring to go. i can only imagine what he's going to have to say about this. >> let me just salute reverend jesse jackson as well as one of tho those. >> wolf, gloria and you guys there in washington, thank you so much. we're going to get to a quick break. we'll come back here to washington on the other side of the break. my colleague brooke baldwin in atlanta will help me with the
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coverage. we'll be right back here on cnn.
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hi there. i'm brooke baldwin. got some breaking news out of texas. a military jury has unanimously recommended the death penalty for ft. hood shooter major nidal hasan. he was convicted of killing those 13 people and wounding some 32 others in a massacre at the texas army base back in 2009. ed lavandera has been down there for the trial. ed, i know just reading about the closing arguments today, incredibly emotional inside that courtroom. >> reporter: brooke, it was incredibly powerful the way
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prosecutors wrapped up the testimony and the work here in this -- what is a court martial that is now into its fourth week. prosecutors before sending the jury off to deliberate went one by one with poignant snapshots of each of the 13 victims. talking about their family members, the struggles that they've had coping with the loss and everything that they've had to deal with. and it was extremely powerful. and if there was any doubt in these jurors' minds, they had seen all along as nidal hasan basically had put up no fight, that he wanted to become a martyr, be sentenced to death himself, the prosecutors finished their closing arguments this morning by saying that nidal hasan would never become a martyr because he has nothing to give. he is a criminal, a cold-blooded murderer. he is not giving his life, we are taking his life. and it took the jury about 2 1/2 hours or so to reach that unanimous verdict, as you mentioned. a death sentence for nidal hasan. now he will be sent off to ft. leavenworth, kansas, and begins
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the appeals process. we've talked a lot about over the last few weeks about how complicated military death cases are. it will take years before nidal hasan is eligible or will be signed off to receive the death penalty. >> let me just quickly ask you about that for perspective for people who don't know the history here. it has been something like 50 years since someone has been put to death after a military court martial. so the likelihood here could be pretty murky. >> reporter: it's going to take a long time. the last person who was killed in a military justice system was back in 1961. there are currently five soldiers on death row. ultimately, this will require the signature of the president. presidents sign off on the death sentence for these soldiers after the appeals process is exhausted. it will probably not be president obama. and it could be very likely that it is not the next president that signs off on this, ultimately. depends on who you talk to will
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determine just how long this will take. but the appeals process will take some time. but ultimately the death sentence is what is in store for nidal hasan. >> ed lavandera for us in ft. hood. thank you very much. when we come back, you have been watching live here on the steps of the lincoln memorial, the 50th anniversary of the war on washington. we will take you back live to d.c. when we return.
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i have a dream. let freedom ring. [ bell ringing ] let freedom ring, the famous words uttered 50 years ago. here you have the bell ringing just about 50 minutes ago. that bell right there is the very same bell that rang out in birmingham, alabama, at the 16th street baptist church back on september 15th, 1963, because that was the day the bomb ripped through the church, taking the lives of those four little girls. and bells rang out just like this one at some 300 churches nationwide this afternoon to pay tribute to the anniversary of dr. king's "i have a dream" speech and of course that famous line -- let freedom ring. we've been watching the
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ceremony throughout this afternoon on this historic day, as we've marked the 50th anniversary of dr. king's "i have a dream" speech. i want to go back to don lemon. just listening to you talk earlier, i know it's been a nasty, rainy day for those who made the trek there, but according to you two, one woman was saying i don't need an umbrella. i faced the fire hoses back in the day. i am fine. it puts it in perspective, doesn't it? >> absolutely. it certainly did. we're not going to melt from a little rain. you wouldn't really know if it was raining when you looked at the crowds. i just want to pay tribute to the four little girls addy mae collins, cynthia wellesley, carol robertson and denise mcnair, the four girls that died on september 15th, 1963, after the 16th street baptist church was bombed, 1963. i also want to bring in the reverend jesse jackson, tell me
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if you know this quote. nothing in any country -- this person is talking about turmoil across the world -- nothing in any country touches us more profoundly and more -- than the revolution of the negro american. that sounds a lot like what we heard here. what was that? am i right? >> lyndon baines johnson. we heard great inspiration and analysis, frankly from the president, then president obama took us too another level, but today from looking in the rear-view mirror, our challenge today is out the windshield. the appropriation legislation, and civil rights enforcement. we're inspired now, but we're still unemployed, and there's no plan to employ them. they're still there. so 9 challenge to in fact end the laws revive revive the war
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on poverty, these require investment. i hope our government will respond to the dream speech in that way. >> i want to know, though, what's going on in your heart 50 years later, as you heard that speech of the you're one of the beth speech i ever heard was 1988 at the democratic national convention. i listened to that speech. i am somebody. >> well, it really started here f. we had tents out here on resurrection city and i had been asked to be the mayor by reverend abernathy. that morning, you know, spirits were low, dr. king had been killed. robert kennedy had been killed. the people were looking to me to give something. i had nothing to give them, no money, no food, no bus ticket back home. i heard from howard thurman, when your back is against the wall, you have something left. i am, and i matter. that really came from here,
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1968. >> go ahead, van. >> i just want to say to you, sir, you know, when you talk about 40 years in the wilderness, talk about dr. king being killed. obama being sworn in, whenever you have a bridge that long, there has to be a central post. you were the central post. nobody can take that away from you. 1984, 1988 u. your conception of the rainbow coalition is now the governing collision of america. had you not changed the rules in 1988 at the democratic party, hillary clinton would have won the nomination, so i just -- i know you were here 50 years ago, but earp here 20 years ago as well. the country needs to remember there would be no barack obama had there not be a jesse jackson. >> i thank him for having the stuff. he has the intellectual capacity, the vision. my concern is now he's more responding to what happened 50 years ago and it was great. the windshield in front of us says in these urban areas, you
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know, that the impact of home foreclosures, the impact of plants closing, jobs leaving. we now -- have the constitutional right to vote, and -- something like that. >> i hate to rush -- >> no, you don't -- >> i've got to get to break. a quick question. i would be remiss my duties. how is sequels jill junior recovering? >> he is recovering. thanks to god he is getting healthy. this time of year -- i am now convinced he's getting stronger. keep praying, because prayers do matter. >> his wife and the family -- >> wife and children. the family -- to include. thank you so much. thank you so much. we'll be right back here on cnn.
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we're back now live at the mall in washington. what a day it was. i want to bring in donna brazil, my democratic strategist know-it-all. as the old folks say, now that we're here, what do you think? >> where do we go from here? we will continue to march for
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freedom and justice, but today i think we all leave with heavy hearts, note that so many came before us to get us here at this moment and now it's our opportunity to keep the dream alive. as dr. king would say, let freedom ring. >> let it ring. free at last. now we're going to throw it to lee and john berming aren. >> with this faith we will be able to huz out of the mountahe. this is the national lead. from every mountainside, let freedom ring. half a century after he let the historic march, would dr. king say his dream has come true? the world lead. the u.s. appears to be on the brink of military action in syria. it looks like president obama will moveor

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